Scholar Class – 2011
Growing up in the conservative, small town of Jasper, IN, Tommy Craven learned the appreciation for hard work and commitment from his single mother supporting five children. He also discovered the judgment and closed mindedness of the community. Tommy got his first job at age 14 to pay for his own expenses rather than take from his family’s limited financial resources. He translated his work ethic over into high school where he quickly became involved in Student Council, community service clubs, performing arts and Business Professionals of America. It was there Tommy found his love for film. Through this organization, he successfully participated in numerous competitive events involving business and film. He was elected to positions such as District 10 President and Indiana State President. Most recently, Tommy was elected National Treasure for the organization and plans to start a post secondary chapter in college.
In 2009, Tommy announced to his family that he was gay and expected to worse from his conservative town, but he found that his respectable nature and achievement helped to ease the bullying and disagreement. Tommy advocates on the behalf struggling teens in his community by stating that a better tomorrow does exist and symbolizes the strength and courage a LGBT teenager can have with good friends, family and choices.
While attempts to start LGBT awareness groups in his high school have been unsuccessful, Tommy assists the LGBT efforts through involvement in the Human Rights Campaign and national awareness activities along with mentoring struggling members in the community. In the future, Tommy hopes to expand his efforts for the LGBT community and motivate awareness through film, TV and other media outlets.